What Made Mara (and Elsa) Great: Agency
Have you checked out The Women of Star Wars on Tumblr? It has a fantastic retrospective on Mara and looks at what made her character amazing. I’ve been writing a bit about agency these days, and it comes up in the Mara retrospective. I’m going to highlight two parts, because they’re important to creating great female characters and also to Star Wars storytelling going forward. The interesting part is that the questions of self confronted by Mara’s character are very similar to Elsa’s character arc in Frozen.
What made Mara likeable and relatable for me in this arc is her struggle for her own agency against the men in her life and the fact that she fought as hard as she could to maintain her autonomy and won.
This determination to own herself, to fight past all of the things that would hold her captive to someone else’s desires, is ultimately what I think a lot readers find compelling about Mara, whether they realize it or not. Here is a character who is strong and capable but who has been used in her life. And as she realizes the ways she’s been used, she fights back hard. And isn’t that what we all want, in a way? To be able to act and think for ourselves without the limitations that others would place on us because of the ways that they have power over us? To have this woman come in and get rid of all the things that were holding her back and get started on the road to figuring out who she wants to be now that she realizes who she used to be was problematic is so fantastic. Because it’s giving readers the message that you can do this too, if not on quite so dramatic a scale. You can figure out the ways you’ve been used and manipulated by the people of power in your life, what you want for yourself, and how to make that happen. It might be hard and overwhelming and you might always fear backsliding but you can still make it happen. And as Survivor’s Quest shows, maybe not all of the things from your past are bad. Some of the things she admired about the Empire actually were admirable; they were just implemented poorly and for the wrong reasons. And you can work through what those positive things were from your past too. And you’ll be stronger, more confident, and more comfortable with yourself when you do. And that is a great message for a female character to be sending to women readers especially.
The entire piece is worth the read.
- Agent of My Own Destiny
- Strong Female Characters at WonderCon: From Comics, Star Wars Rebels and Beyond
- Seeking Strong Female Characters: Mara Jade
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Assembly of Geeks and RebelForce Radio Presents Fangirls Going Rogue.
Tricia has completed her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa and Gemini. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
For updates on all things FANgirl follow @FANgirlcantina on Twitter or like FANgirl Zone on Facebook. At times she tries the Tumblr.
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